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Robert Mills

Mills, Robert, 1781–1855, American architect of the classic revival period, b. Charleston, S.C. From 1800 to 1820 he worked as an architect in Washington, Philadelphia, and Baltimore, being associated at different times with Thomas Jefferson, James Hoban, and B. H. Latrobe. He then returned to Charleston as state engineer and architect. In 1836, President Jackson appointed Mills architect of public buildings in Washington. In this post he was responsible for designing and supervising the construction of the Treasury Building in 1836 and the Patent Office and the Post Office (now the International Trade Commission), both begun in 1839. His design (1833) for the Washington Monument was executed (1848–84) without the base originally intended for it. Mills had planned to have the great obelisk superimposed upon a large Greek Doric Pantheon. He also designed the Washington Monument in Baltimore, the Bunker Hill Monument, and the Monumental Church in Richmond, Va. Seeking to create a truly American architecture, Mills devised plans for public buildings that were highly practical. His buildings give the effect of great dignity and massiveness, corresponding to their solidity of construction.

See biography by H. M. P. Gallagher (1935).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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